Beyond the biz

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DISCUSSION ABOUT POSTAL REFORM usually involves a heated debate between government officials concerned about the U.S. Postal Services' financial crisis and corporate executives who don't want to pay increased postal rates. But such serious matters weren't the focus of the postal reform discussion taking place on a recent episode of Bravo TV's "Project Runway," a reality TV show that gives aspiring designers a chance to break into the fashion world. Each week, contestants participate in a fashion design challenge, which supermodel Heidi Klum and other fashionistas then judge. In Episode 8, contestants had to redesign the USPS carrier uniforms. Bravo chose the USPS as the perfect fit for the uniform challenge because postal carriers' ensembles are universally recognized in America, said Joanne Veto, senior public relations specialist for the USPS. Kara Saun, a 37-year-old designer who won the challenge, designed a comfortable winter uniform with a turtleneck sweater, a lined vest and drawstring pants. Unfortunately, the hip design will never see rain, nor sleet, nor snow. "There was no commitment on our part to use the design," Veto said. "Postal service uniforms go through a very long selection process, and it always involves organized labor."

CHANCES ARE ANY ILL-ADVISED BUSINESS DECISIONS you made last year aren't as humiliating as those on Business 2.0's recently released fifth annual list of the "101 Dumbest Moments in Business." Topping the list was lock company Kryptonite learning that its locks could be opened with a Bic pen. The company eventually agreed to exchange the faulty locks for new ones at an estimated cost of more than $10 million. Also on the list was James Joseph Minder, chairman of gunmaker Smith & Wesson, being forced to resign when newspaper reporters discovered that he'd spent 15 years behind bars for armed robberies and a prison escape. Business 2.0 even poked fun at itself, admitting that a year after it proclaimed the "Tech Bubble Is About to Blow," the Nasdaq index had risen more than 5%. It also took a shot at its sibling magazine, Southern Living, which had to pull its April 2004 issue from newsstands and mail warnings to 2.5 million subscribers after determining that its recipe for "Icebox Rolls" posed a fire threat.

ADVERTISING PROFESSIONALS LACK ETHICS, or choose not to exercise the ethical reasoning abilities they do have, according to a pilot study conducted by University of Missouri-Columbia's Lee Wilkins and Louisiana State University's Renita Coleman. The pilot was conducted along with a larger study of the moral development of journalists. Wilkins and Coleman gave the Defining Issues Test, which presents takers with a handful of scenarios to which they must respond, to 249 journalists and 65 advertisers. Journalists scored fourth-highest among professionals tested, above groups such as dental students, nurses and adults in general. Advertisers, on the other hand, ranked below business professionals and adults in general, Wilkins said. "In other words, they didn't do great," she said. "Advertising is very much focused on what the client wants, and it's very focused on utilitarian outcomes. When you put those things together, there's an unwillingness in the industry to stand up to clients and say, `You may think you want this, but we know better." M

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